After Hearing from Iowa Farmers, Ernst Makes Their Voices Heard with Army Corps Leaders, Stresses Importance of Mississippi River Dredging Project

The project, which would deepen a busy stretch of the Mississippi River, will lead to better prices for Iowa farmers and help make the state’s agriculture products more competitive in the global market

WASHINGTON – Having heard from a number of Iowa farmers, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) met with the Assistant Secretary of the Army, R.D. James—who oversees all aspects of the Army Corps (Corps) Civil Works program, including flood control and navigation—to stress the need for the Corps to fund a key dredging project on the Mississippi River.

The project would deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel, a stretch of the river from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico, from 45 feet to 50 feet. More than half of all U.S. corn and soybean exports are shipped through this channel. With the Corps in the midst of developing the list of projects it will fund and begin work on this year, Senator Ernst, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, expressed her strong support for the project, which is broadly-supported by Iowa’s agriculture community.

“Completing this project will put more money in the pockets of our hardworking farmers and help make Iowa’s agriculture products more competitive in the global market,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “I made it clear to Secretary James how important this project is for Iowa, and I hope to see the Army Corps prioritize it in 2020. Farmers received welcome news with the recent passage of USMCA and the signing of the U.S.-China phase one trade agreement, and getting this project underway would be another ‘win’ that will position them for success for years to come.”

Senator Ernst meets with Assistant Secretary James.

Iowa Soybean Association President Tim Bardole said, “Today’s market access challenges and harsh economic realities underscore the need for transportation efficiencies and infrastructure investments,” said Tim Bardole, an Iowa farmer and president of the Iowa Soybean Association. “The Mississippi River system is a critical link, allowing farmers to export our products around the world in a timely and cost-effective manner. We’re grateful for Senator Ernst’s leadership to elevate the project and need for investment.”

Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek said, “From her unique and influential role as a member of both the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Ernst understands that, in order to be profitable, it is not enough for farmers to simply grow a crop. They also need to be able to efficiently transport that crop. Deepening the lower Mississippi River is arguably the single infrastructure investment that would provide the greatest economic benefit to Iowa and U.S. soybean and corn farmers. We sincerely appreciate Senator Ernst once again being a champion for Iowa agriculture.”


Senator Ernst has consistently heard from Iowa farmers about their support for this project. Deepening the channel will allow ships to carry more corn, soybeans, and other goods, lowering shipping costs and allowing producers to command higher prices for their crops. Research commissioned by the Iowa-based Soy Transportation Coalition found that Iowa soybean farmers would receive an additional $71 million for their crop if this project is completed.